This week, I thought that I’d speak a little about the different series (in terms of manga and light novels) that I’m currently reading, and try to explain why it is that I’m sticking with each one. Now, this is not a definitive list by any means. In fact, to one degree or another, I tend to be collecting far more series than is sensible, and there are a load of Western comics and regular novels in addition to these. These are, however, some of my current favourites.
Spice and Wolf [Light Novel Series]
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Isuna Hasekura’s wonderful series? To be honest, not a lot. For those that don’t know, the story follows the adventures of two travelling companions, Kraft Lawrence and Holo the Wisewolf. Lawrence is a travelling merchant, and spends his life going from place to place, trying to save enough to achieve his dream of buying a shop. On one such trip, he returns to his wagon one evening and finds a naked lady laying the back. To add to his surprise, he soon realises that said person had the ears and tail of a wolf. This is Holo, the local harvest deity. With modern advancements in farming, she has dropped more into folklore than anything else, and now wishes to return to her home, Yoitsu. Lawrence agrees to take her with him and help her find her home, and so their adventures begin. What you get with Spice and Wolf is actually quite an unusual mix: there is of course some action, though not as much as you may expect, there’s romance, the odd mystery, and a great deal of commerce. Now, the idea of a novel about money changing and the suchlike may sound dull to some, but it never really plays out like that here. These sections are so integral to the books, and they help move other parts of the story along, not hinder them. Even then though, I wouldn’t say that the novels are perfect. There are certainly some characters that I just didn’t enjoy (that’d be you Nora), and some of the alter stories did feel like they slowed a little more than I’d like at times, but these are small complaints. For me, the slow burning romance is superbly played out and now that I have the final book (Volume 17) sat on my shelf ready to be picked up when I finish one of my other reads, I’m more than a little sad that it’s all coming to an end. Still, you know what that means, don’t you? Soon enough, it’ll be time to reread the whole lot!
Dogs: Bullets and Carnage [Manga Series]
I picked up Shirow Miwa’s Sci-Fi Noir series for an odd reason: I stumbled across it by accident and saw that it had been praised for the way it varied up the backgrounds by having plenty of panels that featured nothing but the character’s faces, leaving the reader to focus on them without the distraction of high detail backgrounds. Of course, the series is not without backgrounds at all, and some of them are really quite lavish in detail, but it did turn out to be true that there are a lot of character focussed shots. The story itself also sounded fun, with a focus on four different characters whose lives are intertwined. These include the eye-patch wearing info broker, Badou Nails, a near immortal and emotionally repressed gunman, Haine Rammsteiner, the aging ex assassin, Mihai Mihaeroff, and scarred amnesiac, Naoto Fuyumine. While all have their own goals, all four are drawn into a conflict between the dystopian European city they live in and an organisation from below ground that have been carrying out genetic experiments. OK, so the series can sometimes fall into the realm of cliché, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The art is highly stylised, the action is crisp, and the storyline winds along at a fantastic pace. Honestly, I fell in love with this series the moment long before I finish book one, and to this day it is still the one that I get most excited about when a new volume drops through the letterbox.
D-Frag! [Manga Series]
So I stumbled across the anime version of D-Frag! on Animax, and decided to give it a shot. To be honest, I sort of expected a naff comedy with few real laughs and an over-reliance of fan service that would be dropped fairly quickly from my viewing list. As it happened, I was really rather wrong. As per my review, the anime turned out to be a laugh out loud cavalcade of bonkers that follows the school life of a delinquent named Kenji Kazama and the misadventures that he is dragged into after being forced to join the four-girl strong ‘Game Creation Club’. With that being the case, how could I not check out the source material? So how does it stand-up? Well, in some ways, it’s superior. While the anime adaption is pretty much dead-on, it does cut pretty much every piece of character development for the pink-haired, water loving tomboy of the group, Sakura. As a result, she gets a lot more time in the manga and is a far more interesting character (in fact, I would say that she is my favourite of the series in the manga). The manga has just the same feel of the anime, but has the advantage of still being ongoing. As a result, I always look forward to receiving more of Tomoya Haruno‘s crazy tales of game creation and perfectly palatable harem antics.
So that’s a small chunk of my current list. What y’all? What’re you reading?